Houston Football Comes Up Just Short in Low Scoring Affair
HOUSTON (AP) - Brant Hanna's two field goals, including a 27-yarder early in the fourth quarter, were all the offense No. 14 Southern Mississippi could muster in a brisk wind as the Golden Eagles eked out a 6-3 victory over Houston on Saturday.
Hanna, who missed three field goal attempts, kicked what turned out to be the game-winner with 9:27 remaining after Southern Mississippi (6-1, 4-0 Conference USA) briefly came to life offensively.
Facing the wind that hounded both offenses, the Golden Eagles capitalized on two defensive holding penalties and a pass interference call against Houston (3-5, 2-2) to move 75 yards in 12 plays early in the final quarter.
Hanna, who had missed from 53 and 35 yards, nailed the chip shot for Southern Mississippi's only lead.
Hanna then missed a 42-yard attempt with 3:45 remaining, and a sluggish Houston offense which gained only 148 yards for the game _ including minus-2 on the ground _ made a final charge.
Jason McKinley marched the Cougars to the Southern Mississippi 16 when, on third-and-9, he was sacked by linebackers Rod Davis and Roy Magee for a 12-yard loss. Mike Clark's wind-aided 47-yard field goal try was wide left.
Golden Eagles quarterback Jeff Kelly, who finished 17-of-32 for 201 yards, ran out the clock.
Lost in the result was an inspired Houston defensive effort, especially by linebacker Wayne Rogers. The senior single-handedly pushed the Golden Eagles back 30 yards with seven tackles for loss, including two sacks.
Despite Southern Mississippi's own punishing defensive play, it failed to intercept a pass for the first time in 11 games and could not take away any of turnover-prone Houston's four fumbles.
Clark, who had a 23-yard field goal attempt blocked by Cedric Scott in the first half, opened the scoring with a 35-yarder early in the second quarter as Houston led 3-0 at halftime.
Though Southern Mississippi spent practically the entire third quarter in Houston territory thanks to a series of short punts against the wind, the Golden Eagles managed only Hanna's 31-yard field goal to tie.
Had Houston won, the Cougars would have shared first place in Conference USA with Southern Mississippi, which has won six straight since an opening loss to Tennessee.
Houston has lost nine straight games to nationally ranked teams since a 56-49 overtime win over then-No. 20 Southern Mississippi on Nov. 9, 1996.